This article analyses the protracted process by which democratised Uruguay has come to terms with its legacy of human rights violations. Central to this process has been the nature of Uruguayan transitional policies and their more recent partial unravelling. Due to the negotiated transition to electoral democracy, civilian political elites approached the transitional dilemma of balancing normative expectations and political contingency by promulgating legal immunity, for years avoiding initiatives to pursue trials or launch an official truth commission, unlike neighbouring Argentina. A constellation of national and transnational factors (including recurrent initiatives by social and political forces) eventually opened up new institutional ground for belated truth-telling and accountability for some historical wrongs – and yet, attempts to challenge the blanket legal impunity failed twice through popular consultation and in a recent parliamentary vote. Each time, the government officially projected a narrative that sacralised national consensus and reconciliation, now enshrined in two sovereign popular votes, and the adoption of a forward-looking democratic perspective.